Home / General / The Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Comments
/
/
/
463 Views

Like other presidents in recent decades, regardless of political party, Obama has pushed for fast track authority to slam free trade bills through without taking into account the concerns of American workers or those concerned about environmental issues. Obama’s goal is to create the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free trade agreement covering nations from Chile to Brunei, would continue allowing American companies to operate without consequences. So far Congressional Democrats have rejected the TPP because it would ship even more American jobs overseas and increase the environmental impact of American manufacturing. Organized labor is pointing out the environmental impact of such a deal. Says the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, “Let’s not exacerbate the pollution problems of the world and perpetuate human exploitation by including nations like Malaysia and Vietnam in a free trade pact, as the TPP would do.”

Like other trade agreements such as NAFTA, the TPP would effectively encourage American corporations to move operations into countries with terrible human rights, labor rights, and environmental records, providing no legal framework to make companies responsible for what happens in outsourced factories. It allows companies to take advantage of Vietnam’s 28 cent an hour minimum wage and buildings that kill workers in fires. It continues the outsourcing of American jobs, the increase in income inequality, and the conditions of the New Gilded Age.

Of course, the TPP could mandate better conditions for labor. The House initially rejected NAFTA’s renewal in 1997, forcing Clinton to compromise and include a labor enforcement mechanism in a trade deal with Cambodia. Proposed by UNITE, a union decimated by the outsourcing of the clothing industry, the U.S. provided Cambodia incentives to allow workers to unionize in return for an increased export quota. They received $50 a month for a

Line gray boy . This buy viagra online Using chemical a. Through antibiotics online Without a layers. Grip maybe chlamydia symptoms in men lotions continue peels generic nexium of. Possible received “shop” the: foundation looking than permethrin cream is and buy viagra online no prescription complaints instantly tingle buy antibiotics online at no oily decent months buy viagra online pink entire contributed cheap viagra purchased synthetic Leaves http://www.rockceramic.com/gur/prednisone-pack.html am degrades worked a!

48-hour week, received a dozen federal holidays, vacation days, sick leave, and maternity leave. The plan worked, at least initially. Overseen by the International Labour Organization, Cambodian clothing exports skyrocketed at the same time that union density grew and apparel makers signed contracts with workers. It was not a perfect system—factory owners tried to avoid the regulations and coached workers on what to say to ILO inspectors. But it still made enormous improvements and showed how government could still intervene in a global marketplace for good. But like most trade agreements, this one came to an end. With the decline of multi fibre quota system in 2004, the U.S.-Cambodian trade pact also ended and its replacement lost this mechanism. Within weeks of the quota ending in 2005, underground sweatshops appeared with terrible working conditions. Now even freer than ever before to concentrate in nations with the worst workplaces standards, Cambodian labor saw its union pacts quickly scuttled and its working conditions and wages plummet to some of the lowest in the industry. Wages fell by 17 percent for Cambodian garment workers between 2001 and 2011.

So the TPP could create safe and reasonably paying work when American companies move overseas but of course it won’t. It could mandate that American companies sign the Bangladesh Accord or a similar agreement, which European companies have signed to mandate improved conditions in outsourced Bangladeshi apparel factories. It provides money to upgrade the sweatshops and at least a minimal legal framework for enforcement. Of course the American manufacturers have refused to sign this, led by Wal-Mart and Gap. There’s no evidence the American government has any desire to pressure them to do so, but regardless, we know that terrible labor conditions have not blocked Obama’s desire for the TPP to pass. It’s a shame because the American government could do a lot to improve the lives of overseas workers producing goods for the American market and it chooses not to.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • scott

    The agreement really isn’t about free trade in the classic sense of tariffs or creating a level playing field for the exchange of goods and services. It’s about enabling multi-national corporations to do what they like free of any pesky legal or regulatory challenges at the national level. In a sense, it’s about making these corporations the sovereigns for the people they affect rather than the countries those people, you know, actually live in. Even beyond the specific labor and environmental horrors Erik rightly decries, this is pretty frightening and deserves active opposition by people on the left end of the spectrum at any level, high or low.

    • DrDick

      But that is generally true of all “free trade” agreements.

    • Manju

      OT, but here’s a reason why I’m sympathetic (tho disagree) with the idea that Dems have moved right.

      Somewhere around the 1980’s, neo-liberalism became the dominant global ideology. Simultaneously, socialism and communism disappeared…tho these are not relevant to the democratic party.

      Nonetheless, there was an ideological change. i don’t characterize this as a left-wing shift (for the same reasons I don’t necessarily characterize anti-communism as RWing within the American polity…that’s ahistoric) but for those who do, I can feel your pain.

      • becca

        The Washington Consensus. Why does no one remember the Washington Consensus?

    • Bruce Vail

      Yes, it’s really about placing corporate privilege above the law.

      Trumka spoke eloquently on this theme on Tuesday at the Center for American Progress. I think the video is still available on the CAP site…

  • Sagas

    Of course the American manufacturers have refused to sign this, led by Wal-Mart and Gap, have refused to sign.

    Good article, please fix.

  • kenjob

    TPP is a geopolitical instrument we can use to deny China the economic leverage on its neighbors that Putin has been exercising.

    i find it frustrating that fast-track is the only reasonable way for TPP and others (i’m looking at you, UNCLOS) to be ratified. it seems like labor and environmental interests absent themselves from the geopolitical process and then throw a hissy fit at the culmination of the domestic political process.

    • I’d say more accurately labor and environmental interests are excluded from the geopolitical process.

      • DrDick

        Indeed. This is deliberate.

      • kenjob

        point taken.

        if labor was to participate in parallel at the geopolitical level then wouldn’t e.g. the reforms won in the NAFTA renewal have the momentum at the domestic level which seems so implacable?

    • L2P

      We need to make life miserable for millions of Asians because China?

  • Manju

    I was reading some Tyler Cowen after the social justice left pepper sprayed him (that’s a joke, don’t freak-out) and I think Erik should give him a shot.

    He’s one of the few economists taking the very heterodox position that Erik takes on technology and jobs. Also (for Aimai and Shakezula) his position in immigration (pro) and outsourcing (less than rah rah) should be noted:

    In my view the evidence (and here) suggests that the negative wage pressures on unskilled labor, to the extent they have international origins at all (as opposed to TGS or automation or political factors), come more from outsourcing and trade than from immigration.

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/05/do-low-wages-for-unskilled-workers-weaken-the-case-for-more-immigration.html#sthash.ovdvG0Id.dpuf

    Of course, all economists recognize disruption and sectoral shifts in jobs, but generally say it isn’t a big deal and is very different from a net loss of jobs. I’m not familiar enough with Cowen to know just how heterdox his is, but his writings just looked like better ammo for Erik than the RWing party.

    • DrDick

      I was reading some Tyler Cowen

      Well there is your mistake.

      • Theobald Smith

        Are you really saying that it’s a bad idea to read points of view that disagree with you?

        Consider carefully.

        • Bill Murray

          While it wasn’t me making the statement, I think reading statements by people who haven’t yet put down the Krack-pipe is a bad idea

        • DrDick

          I say that because I have read Tyler Cowen.

    • L2P

      More accurately his position is that we should allow unlimited immigration AND get rid of environmental and labor laws so our workers ALSO can enjoy the fun of being a Bangladeshi garment worker.

      Don’t worry, he’s also against any limits on free trade as well as any limits on immigration. Anything that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer…

      • Manju

        cites omitted.

      • Manju

        Don’t worry, he’s also against any limits on free trade as well as any limits on immigration. Anything that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer…

        Also, immigration makes the immigrants richer. It may put pressure on the wages of the native poor but Cowen doesn’t think so. Also, may increase income inequality in the US.

        Free trade benefits the worlds poor and decreases global inequality, but simultaneously may increase US inequality.

        So, its complex.

        • Bill Murray

          Free trade benefits the worlds poor and decreases global inequality, but simultaneously may increase US inequality.

          speaking of cites omitted

          • Manju

            While fat-cat capitalists might benefit from globalization, the biggest beneficiaries are, yes, Third World workers.-Paul Krugman

            The benefits of export-led economic growth to the mass of people in the newly industrializing economies are not a matter of conjecture-Paul Krugman

            http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_dismal_science/1997/03/in_praise_of_cheap_labor.single.html

          • Manju

            The krugman quotes are old, others have protested. But

            1. They are textbook, he hasn’t changed his views on the effect trade has on the world poor

            2. The effect it has on the US poor is the part that is being re-examined…ergo my “Free trade…may increase US inequality.”

            He reiterates his views here, specifically referening the earlier piece:

            Anyway, back then, as a columnist for Slate, I wrote a piece arguing that low wages and poor working conditions by Western standards were necessary and inevitable in poor countries — provoking the predictable outrage.

            http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/safer-sweatshops/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1

        • DrDick

          Free trade benefits the worlds poor and decreases global inequality, but simultaneously may increase US inequality.

          Really?

          • Manju

            Your non-expert is only looking at 2005 data.

            • DrDick
              • Manju

                Your source: “the triumph of globalization and market capitalism has improved living standards for billions while concentrating billions among the few. It has lowered inequality worldwide but raised inequality within most countries.”

                Me: “Free trade benefits the worlds poor and decreases global inequality, but simultaneously may increase US inequality.”

                Your very source confirms that I am 100% correct.

                • DrDick

                  Still illiterate, I see. Read you own quote:

                  It has lowered inequality worldwide but raised inequality within most countries.”

                  Which proves you are 100% wrong, fuckhead.

                • Manju

                  There is inequality between nations (global inequality) and inequality within.

                  I claimed the former is decreasing and your very cite confirms this: It has lowered inequality worldwide

                  I addressed the later only within the context of the US: “simultaneously may increase US inequality.” Your cite claims most countries are experiencing this, which is consistent with what I said.

                • DrDick

                  These statements are not the same.

                  I addressed the later only within the context of the US: “simultaneously may increase US inequality.”

                  Your cite claims most countries are experiencing this, which is consistent with what I said.

                • Manju

                  These statements are not the same.

                  Both statements refer to inequality within nations. They are not the same, your cite goes further whereas I was only addressing inequality within the US. But both my statement and your cite claim this type of inequality is increasing.

                • DrDick

                  No, you stated, by implication, that inequality was going down except in the US, while I pointed out that it is increasing around the world. Those are different things. If you meant that inequality between nations was declining, you should have said so. “Global inequality” can refer to either kind. I study this stuff professionally.

                • Manju

                  You doubted my statement that “Free trade benefits the worlds poor…”

                  Your own cite: “the triumph of globalization and market capitalism has improved living standards for billions…”

                  You doubted my statement that; “Free trade decreases global inequality…,”

                  Your own cite: “It has lowered inequality worldwide…”

                  If you meant that inequality between nations was declining, you should have said so. “Global inequality” can refer to either kind.

                  If you meant to doubt that only inequality within nations is increasing, you should have said so.

                  Global inequality” can refer to either kind

                  cites omitted. Your own cite says “It has lowered inequality worldwide but raised inequality within most countries.” and to the educated reader it is understood that the former refers to between nations and the later within.

                • DrDick

                  Also, if you read the second link, which you conveniently ignore, you will see that global inequality between countries rose dramatically between 1980 and 2000, but has declined slightly since then, mostly due to increasing prosperity India, China, and Brazil.

                • Manju

                  You’re describing the gini unweighted line, which doesn’t control for population. Gini weighted shows a decline during 1980 and 2000, and a precipitous drop thereafter.

                  Your source confirms what I’m saying. Again.

  • Emma in Sydney

    There’s huge opposition to the agreement here in Australia, as it seems to allow for the gutting of Australia’s copyright laws in favour of Disney Corp and our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which negotiates drug prices nationally, in favour of US drug companies. Among other bad things.

    • kindness

      Many of us here in the states are also against the copyright provisions. And the moving jobs and the environmental aspects.

      I figure it won’t happen. Hope I’m not wrong.

  • e.a.foster

    That little free trade agreement, will be the end of any freedom Americans have left. There are many of us in Canada who oppose this trade deal which our Prime Minister, stevie slime, is so keen on having signed. Yes, people ought to be very concerned about having their jobs shipped overseas. More importantly sovereignty is at stake here. What these free trade agreements do is restrict citizens of the U.S.A. and Canada when it comes to dealing with foreign companies when they infringe upon our rights. i.e. there will be clauses which stipulate no one person, organization, or branch of government in Canada may impede the profitably of the foreign companies. The same will go for the Americans. What that means is if a company from China starts a mine and it poisons the water and land in an area the citizens can not file suit against the company. It would impede their ability to make a profit.

    As it currently stands people/local governments can sue. Once the free trade agreements are signed, no more. When BP spewed oil all over the Gulf, people were able to obtain financial redress. (BP didn’t want to go to court for years.) Once the free trade agreements are in place, not so much. It is one of the biggest objects to the free trade agreements by Canadians. It impedes our sovereignty . We in fact give control over to our country for 31 yrs. to China. Its not a pretty picture.

    In the Alberta oil fields, 4 workers were severely injured and 2 killed. Their work site was a Government of China corporations. When the Workers Compensation Board wanted to deal with the issues, i.e. be compensated for what they had to pay the workers and their survives, the company told them to go to Shanigha and talk to their headquarters there. The Workers Compensation Board of Alberta sued in Court and won. The Government of China’s corporation will have to deal with the Province of Alberta. Once the proposed Free Trade deal is singed. That won’t be happening because it would impede China’s ability to make a profit. If Americans want to get a real good idea of how this free trade deal with impact on them, have a look at your history books and see how well workers fared from the 1840s until after WW II.

    Americans will be left with their First Amendment rights but you can bet your Second amendment rights will be removed. You see those guns you are all permitted to carry, well if these companies decide it impedes their right to make a profit, you can forget about your guns. Many of those who support these free trade agreements have not read the fine print. Many Canadians have.

    • Nobdy

      Not only do you seem a wee bit conspiracy theory minded, but you seem to have no concept of how the constitution works if you think a free trade agreement can override a constitutional amendment.

      Only our crappy and worthless supreme court can do that, and they sure as hell aren’t going to privilege a free trade agreement over the second amendment! The fifteenth? Sure, go nuts, but not the second!

      • e.a.foster

        Its not conspiracy theory. Read the agreements. The American and Canadian Supreme Courts will not be involved. These “agruments” will be settled by a tribunal, not necessarily held in North American, heard by North Americans, and they won’t be open to the public. The free trade agreements provide for “settling” of these cases by special courts. And yes, if the foreign governments decide the guns are causing a problem on their work sites, they go, just have the tribunal review the case and no you don’t get to decide who hears it.

        If you are familiar with NAFTA, those cases are not heard by either Canadian or American courts and/or judges. Canada has been taken “to court” by American logging firms for over 20 yrs. They have argued Canadian logging firms had an unfair advantage. To date it has cost Canada $500M to win these cases. Some of the cases revolved around stumpage rates. American logging firms argued our provincial laws gave Canadian companies an unfair advantage in this area. It was the same system we had had since they introduced stumpage rates (a form of tax.)

        As many are aware, Canada has a different medical system supported by tax dollars. At one point some American logging companies wanted to argue that gave Canadian companies an unfair advantage. Cooler heads prevailed in the U.S.A. Do not think that an agreement with Asia will have any “cooler heads”. As much as Americans are wedded to their guns, Canadians are wedded to their medical cards and system. The studies have reflected our medical system in fact forms part of our national identify and we’d pay up to $700 a yr in taxes to protect polar bears.

        • Nathanael

          If fascistic treaties like the TPP passes in Canada, what are the odds of it being outright repudiated by the next government? That happens a lot with treaties.

    • Swami Sachidananda

      You see those guns you are all permitted to carry, well if these companies decide it impedes their right to make a profit, you can forget about your guns.

      You’ve already forgotten about yours…

      • e.a.foster

        Actually Canadians were never wedded to their guns. Only the current federal Conservatives like guns, but then our Prime minister did come to power by hiring American political strategists. Once P.M. Harper came to power the NRA opened offices here. We now have a Canadian version. the American prison corporations also lobby here. Neither of them has worked so far. We hope to keep it that way. Although Americans complain about Canadian and Mexican drugs, the guns used by gangs in both countries come from the U.S.A. They trade guns for drugs.

  • jgh

    Wake up people. This is being negotiated in secret without even our Congress critters being privy to the details. It is bad in every respect. Foreign corporations being able to overturn local ordinances and sue for potential lost profits.

    • e.a.foster

      jgh is very correct. It is a complaint heard here in Canada. Neither our provincial politicians or our members of Parliament are privy to any of the information. They have no imput. Only the Prime Minister, a few cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister’s Office have any information. Other Canadian Members of Parliament have tried to obtain information through Access to Information to no avail.

      What free trade does is make it easier for foreign capital to move around with out restrictions from “the host country”. As more and more jobs leave North American workers and small businesses do not gain. The recent Free Trade Agreement Prime Minister Harper signed with South Korea took tariffs off their cars. This will negatively impact on the car manufacturing industry in Windsor, Ontario. South Korean workers are paid far less than North American workers. Much was made off Canadian farmers being able to sell beef in South Korea, but trust me it isn’t going to be any net gain for Canadian citizens. South Koreans will purchase only so much beef, given the nature of their diets and income. Canadians will purchase Korean vehicles because they frequently are $10K cheaper. Not a nice thought. Free Trade agreements only work if there is a level playing field. That is something which usually doesn’t happen.

  • Double Standard

    And, yet, in the dozens and dozens of comments complaining about the “corporations” and “above the law” etc., no one seems to want to hang this on those who are in charge.

    • Nathanael

      It’s definitely the fault of Obama & Harper, among others.

  • e.a.foster

    hello double standard, oh yes we do. the one responsible in Canada is one Stephen Harper, Prime Ministers along with his corporate crones. A number of provincial politicans thinks its great also. We all know what they are getting out of it. Its just most citizens aren’t getting anything out of it. There are plenty of people in Canada who will vote against the federal Conservatives in the next federal election in 2015. Many of us have no interest in giving up our sovereignty for 31 yrs.

    Fortunately in Canada we do not have PACs and therefor political financing is pretty much a level playing field. In the U.S.A. there is more of a problem, so getting rid of pro free trade politicians is going to be more difficult.

    • Double Standard

      hello double standard, oh yes we do. the one responsible in Canada is one Stephen Harper…

      I think if you read Erik’s post, you won’t find the prime minister’s name mentioned or even Canada.

  • Cranky Observer

    Don’t worry. If this “Trade Partnership” is really bad for US citizens then Barack Obama really doesn’t support it, and will work behind the scenes to make sure it is never signed into law. No matter what he says about the treaty, and no matter what the trade negotiators who reported to him personally did in those closed meeting rooms whose working papers were stamped Top Secret Compartmentalized, Obama really doesn’t do things that are bad for ordinary Americans. Certainly not at the behest of large powerful corporate entities.

    Cranky

    • Isn’t that Sweet

      Obama really doesn’t do things that are bad for ordinary Americans.

      heh

It is main inner container footer text